Shoulderstand (sarvangasana) is often referred to as the “queen of all yoga postures,” with Headstand being deemed the “King.” The many benefits of shoulderstand cannot be ignored, as it is a complete pose, meaning that it aides in the function of the entire body. Sri Dharma Mittra states that “some yogis do only this pose,” and it can be held from 30 seconds to 30 minutes. There is no doubt that Sarvangasana is a cure-all for most of the common ailments we encounter, like constipation and the common cold. Here are 10 ways that Shoulderstand positively affects our bodies, therefore declaring why the posture should be practiced on a daily basis.
1. Balances hormones: Sarvangasana balances the thyroid and hypothalamus glands, allowing for proper hormone production.
2. Strengthens the heart and respiratory system: Due to the fact that the body is in an inverted position, shoulderstand reduces strain on the heart. Healthy blood can easily circulate around the neck and chest, and as a result, people with asthma, bronchitis and throat ailments may get relief.
3. Combats the common cold: Continued practice of this asana eradicates common colds and other nasal disturbances.
4. Soothes the nervous system: This pose has a soothing effect on the parasympathetic nervous system. Therefore, those easily irritated, or prone to anger or nervous breakdowns can be stabilized and less reactive to life’s circumstances.
5. Reduces constipation: The change in gravitational pull on the body affects the abdominal organs so that the bowels move freely and constipation is relieved.
6. Increased strength and flexibility: Shoulderstand strengthens the upper body, legs and abdomen. The posture opens the chest and stretches the neck, shoulders and upper back muscles.
7. Decreases varicose veins: Shoulderstand assist in draining old blood from the legs, pelvis and abdominal area, therefore reducing varicose veins.
8. Stimulates the Visuddah (Throat Chakra): Shoulderstand ignites the fifth chakra, which is associated with creativity and self-expression. When this chakra is open, our negative experiences can easily be transformed into wisdom and learning.
9. Reduces wrinkles: Due to increased blood flow to the face, wrinkles can be reduced. In addition, many practitioners notice an improved complexion with a consistent shoulderstand practice.
10. Aides in restful sleep: Shoulderstand promotes deep sleep and can assist in providing rest for people with insomnia.
With a consistent shoulderstand practice, it is safe to say that a new sense of vigor and strength will result. You may even feel happy, confident and at peace with this posture as part of your daily practice.
As with many yoga postures, there are contraindications. People with high blood pressure, detached retina, glaucoma, hernias, cardiovascular disease, cervical spondylitis, and/or slipped discs should not practice shoulderstand. If you have or have had a neck injury, seek advice from an experienced yoga teacher before beginning to practice shoulderstand. It is advised that women avoid inversions when menstruating. To receive similar benefits in a more restorative way, try placing a block under the sacrum to elevate the hips above the heart for Vipartita Karani (or legs up the wall).